At least 3,000 young women are the victims of forced marriages in Britain each year, with the scale of the problem far bigger than originally thought, according to a report out this week.
The first study conducted in the UK into the prevalence of the custom shows that there are far more victims, in several ethnic minority communities, than official figures suggest.
The report suggests teachers should be given a key role in talking confidentially to young girls whom they believe may be at risk of being coerced into marriage. And the Home Office-funded study calls on the authorities to take it more seriously, so that it is treated as illegal domestic violence and bullying.
Dr Nazia Khanum, who carried out the research, said: 'There is a wall of silence around forced marriages. Of course, there are thousands of arranged marriages happening in Britain each year, but that is very different, as both partners are willing participants. We are talking about girls being coerced into marriage, often not knowing beforehand who their husband will be, and then having little or no rights once they are married. Most of them feel there is simply no one they can turn to.'
Source: Guardian (English)
See also: UK: Law and forced marriage